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Finding Her Shot

August 23, 2013 | Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com

It’s a simple observation. One that anyone who’s ever picked up a basketball can relate too. Yet, to Skylar Diggins, it couldn't be understated.

“It feels good to see the ball go through the net,” she acknowledged.

Diggins, who admittedly hasn’t shot the ball up to her expectations during stretches of her rookie season, has had more reason to “feel good” over the past few games.

In the past three games, Diggins has shot 44.4 percent from the floor (up from her season average of 32.4 percent) while averaging 12.3 points per game (up from her average of 8.1).

“My shots weren’t really falling so I’ve been in the gym now more than ever to really work on my shot,” Diggins said. “Coming early in practice every day trying to get extra shots up. Going back and looking at where I’m getting shots and watching a little bit of film and figuring out what I was doing wrong. Most of the time I was taking pretty good shots, I missed some in and out and what have you, but it’s all about repetition and getting up extra shots and getting ready to knock them down in the game and shooting with confidence.”

It’s not just the quantity of shots she’s making, it’s also where she’s making them. In Diggins’ past four games, she’s made seven of her 16 attempts from 3-point range, good for 43.8 percent (up from her season averaged of 26.7 percent).

“I think it’s important for me to knock it down when I’m open,” Diggins said of her 3-point attempts. “Obviously it’s a different 3-point line and it’s different for everyone when you play overseas, so part of that was just adjusting. It’s a far shot. You earn all three of those points when you shoot it. So adjusting was a big part for me. I was a decent 3-point shooter in college, but now you move it back so you have to adjust.”

The adjustments Skylar has had to make, however, have extended beyond just the dimensions of the court. Diggins, who gained fame as Notre Dame’s consummate point guard in college, has actually been assuming more of a combo guard role over the past several games.

While it may be new to some of her fans, this is not something that is entirely unfamiliar for Diggins.

“I spent most of my life playing two-guard,” Diggins said. “From high school and AAU, I spent time playing a combo guard. I would bring the ball up sometimes, but most of the time I would be on the wing. In college, my freshman year, I played a little bit of the two also, so it’s not new for me. I pretty much have the same responsibilities but I’m just not bringing it up the court.”

While the change may or may not be playing an impact on her constantly improving offensive game, Skylar knows that this position switch also comes with significant responsibilities on the other end. “I’m comfortable at the two spot and guarding the two also,” Diggins said. “I think that’s important, being able to guard it. Some of the best players in this league play the two, so it’s just as important being able to guard the two as it is to play that position on offense.”

If that wasn’t enough, another new role that Diggins has taken on is coming off the bench, something she’s done in Tulsa’s last nine games. In that stretch, however, she is still averaging 18.5 minutes per game, so her impact on the game is still substantial. It just happens at varying times.

“It’s just a little different,” Diggins said. “I get to see what’s going on before I go in so that’s a plus. Just staying ready because I never know if I’m going to go in as the one or the two. So I’m just going to stay ready and see how teams are guarding certain things and look at things, so when I come in, I know they’re going under their screens or what they’re doing or what signals equal what plays and what have you.”

“I know I’m coming in and the team expects a lot of energy from me. I’m just trying to come in and really be that spark and be aggressive on defense and offense.”

One thing we do know is that that aggression on the offensive end -- along with the extra time spent in the gym -- is starting to pay dividends. And basketball is feeling good again.

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